By Sangeetha Saran
The primary goal of Yoga for families at risk is to provide therapeutic support to families in crisis. It can be difficult for families in crisis to reconnect with one another and make time for healthy activities like Yoga. Fear, addiction, and severe violence are some of the common problems that get in the way of family functioning. At-risk family Yoga works to heal those wounds by using an approach that connects physical health with emotional healing.
Turmoil within a family arises when one person is the source of problems. People who are dealing with an at-risk family member can also seek help in their community. Families that have someone fighting addiction or living with a mental health issue should explore other resources besides Yoga. Counseling, therapy groups, and peer support group meetings are helpful in healing troubled family members.
Undoubtedly, when a family is at risk and going through a crisis, a family counselor can suggest a plan for their patients. The at-risk category includes families where someone has struggled with mental health, substance abuse, or members who have fallen into a gang.
Coping with Loss
Of course, yoga for families at risk helps students cope with a variety of situations. Moreover, many people find it extremely hard to cope with the loss of a loved one. In a similar fashion, yoga can help you better understand your thoughts and feelings. To clarify, students learn to relax muscles, engage the body, and deepen awareness of the breath and mind.
Turning Life Around
People who live with grief and loss often have trouble finding meaning in life. Likewise, they might even feel anger, loss, or pain. Granted, people who are grieving can learn how to build a practice that weaves purpose and hope into their lives. In fact, a variety of media resources and community forums will help them explore their emotions. Yoga is a form of body scan that could be practiced to relax the mind. Indeed, the mind is conditioned by yoga to think about positive things.
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Yoga with Families Displaced by Conflict in Southern Colombia
The Gift that No One Can Take Away
By Danielle Ancin
Giggles and nervous whispers echoed in the room as forty men, women, and children took a ginger seat on their yoga mats. These families were expelled from their rural Colombian homes by threats and violence from armed groups. Therefore, this would be the first exposure to yoga for families at risk. Additionally, this is their first opportunity to experience profound, intentional relaxation since they found themselves homeless more than two years ago.
For the past two years, over 200 recently displaced families in southern Colombia have been working with the international development organization Mercy Corps. Additionally, it has local partners in a program funded by the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. As part of the humanitarian assistance program, participants were supported in developing income generation plans, securing safe housing, building entrepreneurial skills, and caring for their reproductive health.
As one participant commented after her first session, “Yoga is really good because we feel a lot of stress. Yoga helps us alleviate the pain we feel, and we feel better mentally too.”
Surely, those displaced by the conflict suffer extreme emotional, mental, and physical strain. Without a doubt, they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings and carve out a living for their families. In addition, they carry any number of past traumas, from witnessing the killing of family members and friends to suffering physical and sexual abuse. After all, yoga for families at risk workshops creates positive conditions for participants. As a result, families experience deep relaxation in a safe and supportive environment. Moreover, this is a necessary first step toward being able to understand and deal with trauma.
Throughout the workshops, participating families experienced treating themselves and each other with non-violence, which is not a universal value in an environment soaked in decades of conflict. They learned techniques for managing energy and difficult emotions and accessed the calm space within themselves to help them handle stress. Emphasis was placed on reconnecting with the body and reinforcing personal boundaries, important practices for victims of physical and sexual abuse. By constantly bringing attention to the body and breath, participants experienced a sense of grounding and stability that they could invoke in their own bodies, wherever they happened to be.
Sense of Calm
Firstly, as the men, women, and children slowly got up after savasana, many faces were physically changed. Secondly, a sense of calm coupled with renewed energy settled in the room. Thirdly, not all participants were able to relax in yoga the first time. Finally, those who did were easy to spot by the luminous eyes, relaxed shoulders, and faces free of tension.
About the Author
Danielle Ancin is a yoga teacher and she is trying to raise awareness about Yoga as a tool for international development.